No, Mitt Romney Didn't Personally Hack Your Facebook

from the going-mobile dept

And the election season silliness continues. In keeping with the tradition of campaigning against candidates' gaming habits and strange Obama/YouTube conspiracy theories, there's apparently been some hubbub surrounding the mysterious liking of Mitt Romney. Apparently a fair number of liberal-minded folks have noticed that their Facebook profiles have "liked" Mitt Romney on the social media network against the wishes of the profile owner. When questions began to rise as to how this was possible, one popular theory circulating was that Mitt Romney was Zero-Cool-ing people's Facebook profiles to garner more positive attention. Theoretically someone inside his campaign did this for him.

ryan_romney_laugh

"Now we'll have to spell your name all 'puter like, p4uL rY4n!"

Image source: CC BY 2.0

Well, in what I'm sure will shock everyone, no, Mitt Romney and his campaign did not rappel into a server farm Mission Impossible style and hack the internet tubes. Instead, the culprit appears to be Facebook's clumsy mobile application and its accomplice Senor Your-Fat-Fingers.

[Facebook] concluded that users are probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a “sponsored story” from the Romney campaign in their news feed. A Facebook spokesman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the issue is unique to mobile because of the way the app works on small screens, and rejected the idea that the Romney camp was engaging in clickjacking. He added that the company is currently working to clean up its mobile interface.
That, coupled with people who are "liking" Romney's page just so they can see what he's putting out there, even though they may not support him, is admittedly a far less fun explanation than the idea of Romney going all The Net on social media, but I never claimed that the truth was better than fiction. So it's back to your regularly scheduled social media political talk for all of you. Remember: anyone supporting Obama is a Chinese commie spy moron and anyone supporting Romney is almost certainly Hitler.
 



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Atkray (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    We need answers not speculation, someone call Scully and Mulder.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      OK, here's the answer. If you swap two letters in "Romney" and add a hyphen, you get "R-money". In US politics "R" means "Republican", so really "Romney" says "Republican money". Surely you see it now?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    "Remember: anyone supporting Obama is a Chinese commie spy moron and anyone supporting Romney is almost certainly Hitler."

    I've got my polarized sunglasses on, no worries :D

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    If nothing else, US presidential elections are good comedy value. Candidates have no substance and simply rely on cheap slogans and soundbites to get elected. They avoid a serious debate on real issues at all cost and take any opportunity to stick the knife in their opponent to make them look bad.

    People get plenty of reasons why they should not vote for the competition but very few on why they should vote for them. I hate negative politics.

     

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      Yakko Warner (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:52am

      Re:

      I remember a comment I heard on TV many years ago:
      It used to be that you voted for the candidate you liked the most. Then it became voting for the candidate you disliked the least. Now, you vote against the candidate you hate the most.

       

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    Manfred Manfriend, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:36am

    Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

    I see almost every day a post with a picture of some kind or another with text on it. From both candidates, usually something that will primarily appeal to their core demographics, but also more times than not a generic statement about Mom, Apple Pie, and 'Merica is shown and people are liking the photo or the text of that particular photo, not realizing they are also liking the page when they like the image. It has a lot more to do with the way Facebook is allowing the "like" to be construed than it does blaming the victim for having "fat fingers" does.

    I'm not too sure how much longer I'll have a Facebook account though. Between this type of thing, inability to sort my feed by time posted, and the constant sponsored stories I'm finding the site less and less valuable to actually get the information about people I care about.

     

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      That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:43am

      Re: Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

      Amercia tyvm

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:59am

      Re: Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

      I wonder how many "fat fingers" will need to be corrected in the election for those who accidently chose someone that isn't really running and actually meant to cast in favor of Oba-mny.

       

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        Manfred Manfriend, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 9:38am

        Re: Re: Fat-Fingers-Freddy explanation fails to factor...

        That's kind of my point. There's clearly something else at work here besides fat fingers.

        As for the election, you'll have to get back to Diebold on that.

        Myself, I'm casting a vote of "no confidence" in the system by staying home election night. I do not consent to be governed by this broken one party system, and I choose to deny its validity by not participating in its rituals. We have no democracy or representation in the United States of America.

         

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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:37am

    ID-Ten-T Error

    Enough said.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:39am

    Remember: anyone supporting Obama is a Chinese commie spy moron and anyone supporting Romney is almost certainly Hitler.

    Gary Johnson for president!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    So let me get this straight....

    There's a social media platform where you're given intrusive enough ads that this many people accidentally click on them, and clicking on an ad automatically tells the world that you like what the ad was for, and people are still using this?

    Lets tack that on as yet another reason to not use facebook.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:41am

    "Remember: anyone supporting Obama is a Chinese commie spy moron and anyone supporting Romney is almost certainly Hitler."

    How times have changed. 25 years ago, that would have said Russian.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    I look at the picture and think...

    RomneyCare...
    Bend over Mr. Ryan its time for your prostate exam....

     

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    MrWilson, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    "[Facebook] concluded that users are probably liking the Romney page on a mobile device by either accidentally clicking on a Romney ad or a “sponsored story” from the Romney campaign in their news feed."

    While fat fingers might be the cause of the action, it sounds like Facebook's mobile interface is to blame. Why would clicking on an ad or a sponsored story cause you to "like" something? Since when does attention equal affection?

    It sounds like Facebook is making a weird assumption in their user experience design that assumes that people only read about things they like.

     

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      A Dan (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:02am

      Re:

      My girlfriend accidentally "Likes" things on Facebook Mobile on a fairly regular basis. Apparently it's quite easy to accidentally click it.

      Similarly, I often use another app on her phone and accidentally click advertisements (bringing up the web browser with the advertisement). There's no real incentive for them to improve it, since that's how they get money.

       

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        Michael, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:58am

        Re: Re:

        Just because your girlfriend keeps using the "I accidentally liked him." excuse does not mean there is a UI deficiency.

         

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Funny as hell

    Woman calls Obama a Communist and has no idea what that means.

    http://youtu.be/2E87gciwebw

     

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    Englebert the Immensely Well Endowed In Trouser Sn, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    Isn't it more likely

    as per this story from last week, that Facebook is liking things people talk about - even if it's to say that they're physically repulsive?

    Gizmodo - Facebook Is Reading Your Messages and Liking Things For You

     

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    Laroquod (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Techdirt you have fumbled this story. Rather than disproving something few people would actually believe, maybe a better lede would have been that this is the most politically disturbing data point yet -- by far -- in the ongoing tale of Facebook liking things against the user's will.

    Facebook's automatic like system is now even distorting the picture of political allegiances online: that's the story here, not debunking some ridiculous Mitt-sion Impossible scenario.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:29am

    I should be on that House Committee on Science and Technology.

    1.Death to all Software Patents
    2.Mandatory Life Sentence to all Patent Trolls
    3.No Teaching of Fake Creation BS in Public Schools
    4.Next A-Hole to make Rape Comments will be Raped by a broom handle
    5.Real Effort to make and mass produce Alternative Non-Middle Eastern Petroleum
    6.Work on Climate Issues
    7.Teach Evolution in all Public Schools

     

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      Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:33am

      Re:

      "4.Next A-Hole to make Rape Comments will be Raped by a broom handle"

      I would make a rape comment just to have that 'punishment' inflicted on me :)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:43am

    As a person who does not actively facebook, can someone explain to me why this is an issue I should really care about? What value are "Likes," really?

     

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    IronM@sk, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 8:54am

    Not Allowed to Comment Unless You 'Like' Something

    Lets not forget that, due to they way Facebook works, you must "like" a page in order to comment. Since 73.6% of all statistics on the internet are made up, I would suspect around 15.3% of page "likes" are from people that don't actually like the page, but just wanted to voice their opinion on, or, troll said page.

     

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      Michael, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 10:23am

      Re: Not Allowed to Comment Unless You 'Like' Something

      73.6% of ALL statistics are made up. Only 69.1% of statistics on the internet are made up - the online bloggers check their sources a little better than the legacy newspaper guys.

       

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    Rocco Rizzo, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 9:02am

    what a steaming pile

    I NEVER EVER 'liked' Rmoney's page, and I keep getting ads for his, and all kind of right wing fascist garbage. I think that their ad machine cannot differentiate between left and right politics, because EVERYTHING, and I do mean
    E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G I post is leaning left. Some of it is so far left, it scares some of my "progressive" friends.
    So don't pee on my head and tell me it's raining. I have even attempted to block Bishop Willard's ads, and they still keep coming up. I have used every reason that they have. Do not tell me that it's my fat fingers either.
    And wtf is zero-cool-ing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Dude, that whole "only on mobile devices" thing is complete crap. My lady friend has no mobile device, just a PC. She had this happen to her. Her father as well, who has no mobile device. If I had to wager a guess, it would be that the "like" button is being cleverly placed near other images or content on third party sites, and thus people think they are "liking" something else. I do not use Facebook in any way, shape or for, but to me, this appears to be the issue.

    The reason Facebook gave such a malarkey answer is probably because they don't want people to realize how silly and easily gamed the "like" buttons are.

     

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    bob sacamano (profile), Oct 13th, 2012 @ 3:36pm

    Oh, the irony!

    Am I the only one triggered by the absurdity of a *spokesperson*.. for teh Facebooks.. that wishes to remain.. -wait for it- ANONYMOUS??

     

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    Mark Turner, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    Um, no. Something fishy is really, really happening

    Sorry, TechDirt. Many Facebook users who've reported having this happen don't even own smart phones. Some occasional Facebook users with only a half-dozen likes were shocked to see they'd been hacked by Mitt Romney. One woman discovered with horror that her deceased father's Facebook page had been signed up. It's hard to fat-finger something when you're dead.

    What most people don't know is that Facebook tracks EVERYTHING a user does on its site. Users can see everything they've done recorded in Facebook's Activity Log. Curiously, those who've been unwittingly signed up for Romney's page cannot find any Like for his page listed in their Activity Logs, unlike the many hundreds of other Likes they may have made. It's my opinion that this can only be a hack from the inside (whether Facebook knows it or not).

    Facebook's Mobile Mistake theory doesn't hold up, as I demonstrated on my blog. The network security guru Mother Jones consulted in the article, Bill Pennington, doesn't buy Facebook's explanation either. There is more to this than most people know.

    Obviously I don't think Mitt Romney is doing this himself but it appears that someone is doing it on the campaign's behalf. There's just too much anecdotal evidence to be anything else.

    I urge anyone who's seen this happen to sign up for the Hacked By Mitt Romney page (http://www.facebook.com/MittYouDidntBuildThat) for more updates. You can also read my research on my blog, www.markturner.net.

    Cheers,
    Mark Turner
    Founder, Hacked by Mitt Romney Facebook page
    www.markturner.net

     

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    YeahRightIdidnot, Oct 15th, 2012 @ 9:11am

    I don't think so

    I do not own a mobile device, and I do know what I am clicking on, while on FB-I use a desk top. I do not read articles about Romney, because I am not interested. SO, how did the post that I like Romney get on my FB Page? I also never click on ads on FB. So, I don't think this article is true.

     

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    referencement gratuit, Nov 30th, 2012 @ 4:46pm

    Salut à tous ! J'ai remarqué que votre site est bien référencé mais pourrait etre un peu plus optimisé. Etes vous autonome dans ce secteur. Je propose des formations SEO. Si ça vous intéresse, contactez-moi

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    berwar amedi, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Berwar-amedi/354181707958290?ref=hl

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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